Monday, June 17, 2013

Living Mindfully-Or Suzanne's Lifestyle Challenge

I had planned to write this post to be a "How I spend my days in retirement" update post move and share my lifestyle adjustment. I figured that could come after this post, after reading Suzanne's blog !

Suzanne over at Life Out Loud has a lovely post today about living your goals.  Although I am not a goal tracker or planner as such, I think it's important to live according to what our life goals or mission are-and that sometimes we need to rethink and re-evaluate.  Suzanne divides her life goals into the following:  Spiritual, Physical, Social, Fiscal, Family, Creative and Community.  These are the words she uses to plan her days.

If I had to verbalize my priorities I am not sure that I would do so in such an organized way.  That said, for years my little non-planner date book has had the following categories:  Financial, Personal, Family, Travel, Church and Volunteering, Home, Artistic, and Social.  When I do my minimal goal setting, these are the categories I use. The challenge on occasion is to fit all these categories into my week or month-realizing that many things I do fall under more than one category and that somethings, like travel, are monthly or seasonal items. I have been thinking for sometime that this list is clunky (although it is not out of line with my lifestyle).

Suzanne suggest tracking how we spend our time to see if we meet our goals. In my case, I have a leather journal and on one side of the page I write down my thoughts for the day and things I want to do, and on the other side I write at the end of the day the things I am thankful for and what I have "accomplished" that day. This has been especially helpful during my retirement transition time (I have a separate small monthly and weekly calendar with dividers for shopping lists and appointments-this is my version of a journal). I hope to do an update and share how much time I spent in each of these areas, as well as post a follow up post in the next day on daily life in retirement-to see where these goals fit into my days.

Much of my life is in flux and I am a person who prefers more down time than others-so my time may be much less scheduled or on a different balance than yours.  Even so, in general, this is what each of these areas mean to me and how those needs are fulfilled:

Personal: This includes a great deal for me. On a weekly basis it means exercising in someway at least three times a week for a hour. It means time for meditation daily, and trying to allow for a least a full hour (if not more) of down time each day-be it spent reading or enjoying the garden and day dreaming. Note: I try to alter my mindless mystery reading with a classic nor non fiction book at least two to one, which is why I belong to a book club.  Finally, these days I am trying to take a class for fun every so often.  Finally I try to plan regular entertainment style enrichment, at least a couple times a month.

Church and Volunteering:  This is one of those lifestyle things that I usually don't have to strive for-not only that, but much of my social life comes in these areas. I go to church once a week (as often as not Wednesday as Sunday), and I strive to keep Sundays as "quiet time". I volunteer at least sixteen hours a week out of my house as well as taking on intensive projects. I also volunteer from home, making quilts for various charity groups.  This is an area that I notice immediately if it is out of kilter.

Home:  This is an area that gets more attention than others depending on the week and season-and is not about choosing when to vacuum.  It is about a few maintenance items as well as those fun things one does at various times of the year to make home-home, as in your favorite place to be.  Last week it was making a faerie garden for the patio and setting up the grill for summer.  At this point in my life, this also includes a certain amount of hours spent on Zillow and driving around various neighborhoods as well as visiting houses!

Financial: On one level, this is much more on track and on autopilot. Still, I track and review expenses weekly to make sure I spend money in line with my priorities. Also, as part of my daily online routine I spend time visiting those discounts and deal sites and looking for all the ways there are out there to make life more enjoyable at a low cost. Finally, I spend perhaps an hour each week (at the most) figuring up costs and expenses for my freedom business/income streams, updating my websites and keeping those good records for the taxman.

Family:  My move has made this part of my retirement lifestyle much more rewarding, although it has also meant moving away from my adult daughter.  I see my family for dinner about twice a month. I build time into my schedule as needed to help my son with his goals and build his self esteem, and I thank heavens for my smart phone that allows my daughter and I unlimited texting and phone and photo sharing at will.  Note: When I blog about  my family I do it discreetly. You'll see that I don't use names when possible and I try to never show pictures of my family. This is my way of keeping my blog relevant and topical and yet respecting privacy and safety.

Social:  This is an area that I continue to work on, especially after relocation.  Much of my socialization is through my church and I expect that to increase-after church coffees, dinner groups and so on. Other than that, I try very hard to get out of my house once a week for a meeting or for lunch-be it a book group, a class, a quilt guild meeting. Note:  I understand that for some this may seem like not enough socialization-I know everyone is different.

Creativity:  This is an important part of my lifestyle, but probably the one feel the least need to "make sure" gets included on a daily basis. I spend at least half a day, at least four times per week on creative pursuits-be it quilting, drawing, painting, cooking and canning or in some other area. Today I hope to make an "altered" Halloween birdhouse.

Travel/Adventure: This means different things for different people, and for me it means lengthy travel a few times a year (for two to three weeks) , and weekly or biweekly day or overnight trips. I tend to blog about this as I am doing the planning, and share my day trip and travel adventures. There are weeks when I spend time travel planning and researching (as when I talked about riding the rails.

It's easy to see how so many of these lifestyle categories "crossover".  Making the faerie garden was a creative project that improved my home environment. Volunteering allows me to meet new people and is also often a social activity. I'm sure you see what I mean.

I try to include all of these lifestyle choices (except perhaps for travel) in my life weekly-while at the same time remaining unscheduled and laid back. Later on, I'll show how I do this-or at least how I try!! Meanwhile, it's off to that birdhouse!


  1. Barb, glad you enjoyed my blog post yesterday and thanks for sharing the link. I thought of folks like you, Bob and Tamara when I was writing it. I think making goals, tracking progress and moving forward is almost second nature to many of us whether we write them out or not.

    We spend enough time in introspective thought to know what is important to us and our blogs and journals provide an at-a-glance check and balance of our activities. Knowing yourself well makes it easy to wake up and put your finger on just the thing that is a little off-kilter, doesn't it?

    I look forward to your follow-up posts. BTW, Barb and "down time" are not synonymous. Love your energy.

  2. Barb, I hope all is well. I left a comment several days ago but have not seen it appear. Just in case it got lost, I'll let you know again that I appreciate the link back to my blog post. I think you expanded on the concept very well and I look forward to your follow-up post.

  3. This is something that I have to start doing.

    God bless.


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